God has made man to find his greatest happiness and satisfaction in useful labor. It is the duty of every man to work. The idle man who wastes his time and his life is of no use to himself or to others. He often gets into bad habits and sins that if he were busy would not tempt him. The man who is too lazy to work for his living is the most ready to beg or to steal.
In ancient Israel, even the children of a king were taught some useful trade and to work with their hands.
In old Germany, all the boys of the royal family were taught some useful trade.
One of the ancient kings of Egypt made a law that all his people should come before their rulers once a year, and prove that they knew some trade by which they could earn their living. Any man who could not do so was put to death.
There was at one time a custom among the people of Holland that was meant to prevent idleness. When a man was found begging, who was able to work, he was seized, and put into a pit, into which water was allowed to run through a pipe.
At the bottom of the pit there was a pump to get rid of the water. But it was hard work to pump out the water that poured in; and if the man had stopped pumping, he would certainly have been drowned.
It was great fun for those who passed by to see an idle tramp forced to work in spite of himself and a few hours of this punishment was enough to cure a very lazy man. When he was quite worn out, he was ready enough to promise to work for his living in the future.
But it is not enough that a man should learn some kind of work. He should apply himself to his work with a will, and not waste his spare minutes or half hours. “Work while you work, and play while you play,” is a good rule for old people as well as young people.
There is no better habit than that of early rising, and this, like all other habits, is most easily formed in youth. A great French writer tells us how he managed, by the help of his servant, to get up early in the morning, and thus save much of his time.
“When I was young,” he says, “I was so fond of sleep that I lost half my time. My servant Joseph did all he could to help me to break off my lazy habit, but at first without success.
“At last I promised him five shillings every time he could make me get up at six o’clock. He came the next morning at that hour, and did his best to rouse me; but I only spoke roughly to him, and then went to sleep again.
“The next morning he came again, and this time I became so angry that he was frightened. That afternoon I said to him, ‘Joseph, I have lost my time, and you have not won your five shillings. You do not understand your work; you should think only of that I have promised you, and never mind how angry I am.’
“Next morning, he came again. First I begged him to leave me alone, then I grew angry, but it was of no use; he made me get up, very much against my will.
“My ill-humor did not last long after I was awake, and then I thanked Joseph, and gave him his five shillings. I owe to Joseph at least a dozen of the books I have written.”
Young readers, don’t wait until you have such a bad habit as that. Don’t wait until you have to pay someone to get you out of bed in the morning. Start today and determine that you will learn to rise early, and use your hours wisely. You will never regret the good habit.
Storytime Treasury, compiled by P. G. Temple, Harvestime Books, Altamont, Tennessee 37301.